Professor Listing


Michael Frishkopf, BSc (Yale University), MA (Tufts University), PhD (UCLA)


Arts | Medicine & Dentistry


About Me

Michael Frishkopf is Professor of Music, Director of the Canadian Centre for Ethnomusicology, folkwaysAlive! Research Fellow, Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies, and Adjunct Professor of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta. His research focuses on the music and sounds of Islam, the Arab world, and West Africa. Research interests also include Music for Global Human Development, music and global health, social network theory, digital music repositories, music information retrieval, and music in cyberworlds. A SSHRC-funded collaborative project, Music and Architecture in the Muslim World, centers on intersecting soundscapes and landscapes of the Muslim world. 

Recent productions include an edited collection, Music and Media in the Arab World, a collaborative video, “Songs of the New Arab Revolutions”, two music CDs supporting West African development ( and, a series “Songs for sustainable development and peace”, a project promoting community health in northern Ghana, and numerous articles and book chapters, including the forthcoming “Venerating Cairo’s saints through music and monument.”

Professor Frishkopf has received major research grants from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSRHC), the Canadian Heritage Information Network, the American Research Center in Egypt, the Social Science Research Council (USA), the Fulbright Program, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Selected Works

“Globalizing the soundworld: Islam and Sufi music in the West”, in Sufis in Western Society: Global Networking and Locality, edited by M. Dressler et al, Routledge, Jan. 2009 (29 pages). Tracing global flows of people and media, this chapter develops a general theory of soundworld and soundscape, by analogy to the lifeworld of Schutz and Habermas, and the ethnoscape of anthropologist Arjun Appadurai.

“Mediated Qur’anic recitation and the contestation of Islam in contemporary Egypt” in Music and the play of power, edited by Laudan Nooshin, Ashgate Press, 2008 (42 pages). This article analyzes the politics of religious soundscape in Egypt, developing a systematic methodology for comparative ethnomusicological analysis, and contributing also a general theory of music’s semiotic power.

Music and Media in the Arab World, book edited by Michael Frishkopf, with an introductory chapter by Michael Frishkopf. Published by American Univ. in Cairo Press, 2010 (approx. 300 pages). This collection of essays combines insider and outsider, Arabic and English, scholarly and critical perspectives on the relation between music and media in the Arab world (centering on Egypt), with primary focus on music and television, and the commodification of the musical image. 

Virtual Museum of Canadian Traditional Music (for VMC, Virtual Museum of Canada). Website includes extensive multimedia holdings (audio, video, and text), plus guided museum tours, effectively making academic ethnomusicological research accessible to a broad community audience.

“Tarab in the Mystic Sufi Chant of Egypt”. In: Colors of Enchantment: Visual and Performing Arts of the Middle East, edited by Sherifa Zuhur. American Univ. in Cairo Press, 2001, pp. 233-269. (37 pages) In this article, based on six years of fieldwork in Egypt, I clarify local Sufi theories on the cross-talk between musical, poetic, and mystical emotion, focusing on the development of socio-musical-spiritual relations between Sufi saint, poet, singer, and listener in a sacred place and time, and highlighting connections to musical emotion (tarab) developed in secular listening contexts.

“Music for Global Human Development” ( ). "Songs for sustainable development and peace". and Participatory action research in ethnomusicology for development, especially in Africa (Liberia, Ghana, Egypt, Ethiopia).


Areas of Research & Interest:

Middle East studies
Religious Studies
Islamic studies
Computer science
Media studies


Areas of Instruction:

  • Ethnomusicological theory and practice
  • Music of Africa and the Middle East
  • Social Network Analysis
Ensemble Instruction:

Middle Eastern and North African Music Ensemble (MENAME)

Outreach Instruction:
Ghana Summer Study Abroad Program